Freedom and democracy are in retreat around the world. Where it is most noticeable and most dangerous is in America. But, then it is as expected. It is as sages from Plato to de Tocqueville predicted, but the final outcome will likely be worse than most have prophesied for this nation and the world, for we were not just the shinning beacon on a hill for the rest of the world to follow, or at least so we crowed, but the most powerful empire ever known. An Imperial America suffering from a pervasive, bloated national hubris expressed by a growing petulance accompanied by a total loss of empathy and backed by a destructive coercive military and economic imperialism that engulfed the world, until now.
The idea of the next “American Century” that pervaded the halls of the “hidden State” and the broadly expressed pontifications of the neo-con right and the “humanitarian” left all supported the expansion of the military state and no matter how the their words were glazed, the end goal was the same–the imposition of the American way upon the rest of the world, no matter how many lives were lost and nations destroyed–the ends justified the means, even when those ends were totally self-delusional. Stalin, Mao, Hitler even the British empire all suffered under the same self-destructive disease and tens of millions died and lands laid waste.
I have a law of hubris and it goes like this; the magnitude and duration of the period of hubris is ultimately matched by the magnitude and duration of the fall from grace. This law, I think, applies to individuals, organizations and nations. Perhaps, there is a corollary as well, that should be applicable. Extremes of hubris are usually, perhaps even necessarily, accompanied by evidence of an increasingly self-destructive,corrosive hypocrisy the magnitude and duration of which leads to somewhat the same ends, irreversible decline, revulsion, revolution or death.
Freedoms lost to the increasingly authoritarian State–will not be quietly returned. American hubris surely started to swell in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War, it peaked with G.W. Bush. Obama, is nothing more nor less than the penultimate Presidency heralding the coming years of turbulent decline. He is a historically necessary accelerant, no matter how much we all who find his narcissistic, social and racial divisiveness, anti-American and pro-Muslim posturing odious, his policies are still more those of the State and less of his own making than we would like to believe. Under my law of hubris, America faces, at a minimum, 60 years of a turbulent, socially disruptive environment fraught with serious totalitarian and bloody risks.
Though the notions of “democracy” are fashionable, in much of the world the practice of democracy is still quite superficial and democratic institutions remain vulnerable. There is no shared global understanding of the real meaning of democracy, and especially to what degree democracy should go beyond the political realm and also entail at least minimum guarantees for individual material well-being. Confusion is even more evident in the case of the concept of “the free market.” Today, it is also triumphant—with “Thatcherism” held in higher repute than Marxism. But in many parts of the world the understanding of its inner workings, and of its cultural mainsprings, is quite shallow. Moreover, unless democratic practice, and especially the economic performance of the free market system, leads to a demonstrable improvement in social conditions, it is only a question of tie before a negative reaction to these concepts sets in
Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century (Zbigniew Brzezinski)
What was once one of the world’s liveliest and most robust democratic systems has lapsed into a sham democracy uncomfortably reminiscent of the old Eastern Bloc states, where everyone had the right to vote for a preselected list of candidates who all support the same things.
The word “democracy,” as suggested earlier, has suffered substantially from this treatment. In the mouths of most of the people who use it, that word has lost any connection it once had to elections, checks and balances, limitation of powers, theories of the nature of law, or any of the other things it means when it’s treated as a descriptive label for a certain class of systems of government. Instead, it’s a verbal noise linked to warm and fuzzy feelings.
It does not speak well for the pretensions of today’s America that its presidential candidates in 2012 pursued their debates on a level that a crowd of Chicago feedlot workers in 1858 would have found embarrassingly simplistic. Nor was this unique to 2012; it has been true of almost every American presidential debate since the 1960s.
Since the New Deal legislation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson, the Leviathan entitlement state has continued to expand. The republic of the founders has become more democratic, but it is a “Potemkin democracy,” as James Kalb puts it, in which political freedom has become hedonistic license, while self-government and individual autonomy have been diminished by a powerful federal government, transformations made palatable by social welfare transfers.7 This epochal change from the constitutional order of the founders in our own time has been made easier by modern developments that have perpetuated and worsened the flaws of democracy long catalogued by the antidemocratic tradition. As a result, we have created the “softer despotism” prophesized by Alexis de Tocqueville
==Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America (John Michael Greer)
The end of democratic society is reached not when petroleum is exhausted or soils depleted or the atmosphere artificially warmed, but when we reach a state of egalitarian ennui, and the passive citizen remains unconvinced that his own democracy is any better than the alternative.
==Democracy’s Dangers & Discontents: The Tyranny of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama (Hoover Institution Press Publication) (Thornton, Bruce S.)
One can view the last decade as a period of at least incipient decline in democracy. To make this case, we need to examine not only the instability and stagnation of democracies, but also the incremental decline of democracy in what Thomas Carothers has termed the “gray zone” countries (which defy easy classification as to whether or not they are democracies),4 the deepening authoritarianism in the nondemocracies, and the decline in the functioning and self-confidence of the world’s established, rich democracies.
The world has been in a mild but protracted democratic recession since about 2006. Beyond the lack of improvement or modest erosion of global levels of democracy and freedom, there have been several other causes for concern. First, there has been a significant and, in fact, accelerating rate of democratic breakdown. Second, the quality or stability of democracy has been declining in a number of large and strategically important emerging-market countries, which I call “swing states.” Third, authoritarianism has been deepening, including in big and strategically important countries. And fourth, the established democracies, beginning with the United States, increasingly seem to be performing poorly and to lack the will and self-confidence to promote democracy effectively abroad. I explore each of these in turn.
Since 2000, I count 25 breakdowns of democracy in the world—not only through blatant military or executive coups, but also through subtle and incremental degradations of democratic rights and procedures that finally push a democratic system over the threshold into competitive authoritarianism (see Table). Some of these breakdowns occurred in quite low-quality democracies; yet in each case, a system of reasonably free and fair multiparty electoral competition was either displaced or degraded to a point well below the minimal standards of democracy.
Perhaps the most worrisome dimension of the democratic recession has been the decline of democratic efficacy, energy, and self-confidence in the West, including the United States.
==Is Democracy in Decline?, Journal of Democracy, January 2015
Back in 2006, the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, right-wing Conservative Stephen Harper warned that “You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it.” After nine grueling years, that’s already true in many ways. But now, Harper is going even further in his re-make of the country. Under new and pending legislation, Canada is moving rapidly towards the creation of a police state, with major curtailments of civil liberties. In recent weeks, the Harper Conservatives have introduced and/or passed several pieces of legislation that run roughshod over Canadians’ Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Constitutional rights, giving draconian powers to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
There’s Bill C-13, the highly unpopular online spying legislation, which received Royal Assent on Dec. 9, 2014. The Bill allows warrantless internet surveillance through the collection by CSIS of Canadians’ everyday internet use. The Bill contains broad new police powers, including several new warrants for surveillance, tracking and gathering of bank information. Bill C-13 has been vehemently opposed by more than 60 Canadian organizations. OpenMedia’s David Christopher says that “important parts of this legislation have already been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.” 
There’s Bill C-44, which expands the surveillance powers of CSIS globally, while granting anonymity protection to CSIS informants and allowing for new conditions under which Canadian citizenship can be revoked. This bill passed third reading on February 2 and is now with the Senate. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has called this bill “highly problematic.” 
There’s Bill C-639, introduced on Dec. 3, which impinges on the Constitutional right of assembly and would criminalize people exercising their democratic right to public protest. And there’s Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015, introduced on Jan. 30, containing draconian measures that verge on the creation of a police state. These two bills are the focus in this article because they both refer to protection of “critical infrastructure.”
This will likely end the same way that Occupy Wall Street did with a nationally coordinated suppression, black -sites and even planned, but executed murders. So goes America, so goes Canada and so goes the world.